There was a time when I had thought that the abortion movement’s moniker was misleading. To say one is “pro-choice” is to say anything and everything that keeps the conversation away from the heart of the issue—all pun intended—the life of the unborn child.
Often I felt as if the “pro-choice” label was helping to keep the abortion argument centered around the notion that the government does not have the right to legislate morality. (Note: the statement itself is a moral one.1)
By using “pro-choice” in the debate, it seemed as if it was an attempt to move us all away from the question of whether what is in the womb is a life or a potential one, and then for us to simply argue over a woman’s right to choose.
I must concede on this. “Choice” indeed is the right word, and I was in the wrong. Abortion is about a choice. We just need to define what is being chosen. Abortion is a choice between two competing rights: the right of the woman not to be pregnant any longer, and the right of the child not to be killed.2
It really is that simple. Let’s look at the first part: the right not to be pregnant any longer. We would all agree that a woman has a right to not engage in sex leading to a pregnancy. But does this mean that she has the right to not be pregnant (via an abortion) after deciding to engage in that sex? If yes, we are choosing convenience over compassion. Do you see the competing rights? The woman who answers “yes” has decided that the child in the womb does not have the right to not get killed.
But you might say: perhaps she doesn’t believe what is in the womb is a “child.” Good point. Maybe we should first ask, “What is the object of attention in the womb during an abortion?”
John MacArthur and the leadership team of Grace Community Church assembled a book that responds to a number of today’s controversial issues. Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong has served as an excellent topical Bible reference for me on a variety of these controversial issues.
Here’s how God answers the question “is it a child?”3
In some passages, the Bible speaks of an unborn child in the same way that it does of those who have been born—thereby showing that God views them both the same way. For example, in Exodus 21:4 and 21:22 the same Hebrew word translated ‘child’ or ‘children’ is used, despite the fact that verse 4 refers to a postnatal child while verse 21 refers to an unborn life.
The New Testament also uses the same Greek word for life before birth (Luke 1:41, 44) as it does for life outside the womb (Acts 7:19). It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that the unborn are often described in the same ways as those who are born (Gen 25:22–23; Job 31:15; Isa 44:2; Hos 12:3).
For that matter, the prophet Jeremiah notes that had his death been prenatal, the womb would have been his grave (Jer 20:17); and the prebirth death of one of God’s prophets cannot be equated with the death of a nonperson.
Dr. Albert Mohler recently addressed this same issue in his Wednesday edition of The Briefing, in which he mentioned the development of ultrasound technology. Ignorance is no longer an option, as we now possess tremendous images in fascinating detail that make us all-the-more responsible (before God) for our choice.
Here’s what Mohler had to say:
Going back to 1973, we need to keep in mind that most persons had no idea how to see that life within the womb. That was a vision that had not been allowed to virtually any previous generation. All that changed with the development of what’s now called ultrasound technology.
That imaging technology allowed a view inside the womb. This first came in generalized images that came of a mother with a baby in a womb, but eventually every expectant mother in the United States came to expect an ultrasound image, and that created something of an enormous problem for the pro-abortion movement.
It turns out that seeing the baby inside the womb, even at very early stages of development, instinctively informs the person seeing the image that this is not merely a potential life, this is life. This is not just a potential person, it is a person. This isn’t just a maybe baby, this is a baby.
Back to our definition of abortion as a choice. It is a choice between two competing rights: the right of the woman not to be pregnant any longer, and the right of the child not to be killed. The answer to this argument first begins with a biblical one, backed by an observational one. But there is much more available for those who still deny both.
Think back on Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, and Dachau. Do you know these names? (We all should.) Or consider today’s abortion numbers in New York City where the NY State Department of Health reports that for every 1,000 black babies born alive, 1,180 are aborted. (This was not MLK’s dream.)
We need to uphold our Fifth Amendment, “No person shall… be deprived of life.” Imagine if adoption could be our new mantra for those with unwanted pregnancies. May we, the people of the U.S. Constitution, pray that God would change hearts; to restore to this land a culture that chooses life.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of choice—a choice of the heart. One must choose between two competing rights. Do we submit to self (the woman’s right not to be pregnant any more) or the revealed will of God (the right of the child not to be killed)?